The University of Maryland President's Commission on Women's Issues recently honored Professor Amy Sapkota, interim director of the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health, and Sahra Ibrahimi, a family science doctoral student, with its Women of Influence Awards.
Bestowed during the commission’s annual Celebration of Women awards ceremony, the awards recognize University of Maryland faculty, staff and students who have distinguished themselves by working Fearlessly Forward with and for women on campus and in the community.
"Sahra and Amy began their advocacy and activism for women because of personal inequitable and inhumane experiences and those witnessed in their education, profession, communities and nations," said Erin McClure, chair of the President's Commission on Women's Issues and director of operations and chief of staff for the School of Public Health. "Their passion and bold work continues because of their belief that we can achieve true equity and because they know that women must hold positions of power and work with one another and champions of women to enact change. They are models of what it means to be a changemaker, and they inspire us all to do what is good and just."
Sapkota is an MPOWER Professor, director of the CONSERVE Center of Excellence and director of the UMD Global STEWARDS NSF Research Traineeship. She is also the principal investigator for the new Global FEWture Alliance. Funded by a $3 million Institutional Grant from the University of Maryland Grand Challenges Program, the international and interdisciplinary alliance will focus on alleviating food, energy and water insecurity, protecting environmental and global public health and bolstering community resilience in a changing climate. Sapkota also stresses the importance of self-care with her students and colleagues to ensure continued mental health and a balance between school and family or personal obligations.
Ibrahimi is a doctoral student studying maternal and child health, a Graduate Student Ambassador and an instructor for an undergraduate class on families and global health. Her research focuses on women’s autonomy in her native country of Afghanistan, including the association between spousal violence and the use of contraception. Ibrahimi also works with the El Camino project, a goal-setting sexual health promotion curriculum targeted toward Latino youth, and serves on the Department of Family Science Coalition on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion (CAREI). She has 16 peer-reviewed publications and was the recipient of the National Institutes of Health People's Choice Award for one of her research projects.
Women of Influence awardees are University of Maryland students, staff and faculty who show leadership in one or more of the following core areas:
- Community Engagement: engaging the community at UMD and beyond to strengthen the experiences of women and girls
- Mentorship: formally and/or informally fostering the development of women & girls
- Preventing Sexual Harassment: and other forms of sexual misconduct
- Social & Political Justice: supporting issues of diversity, inclusion and justice by addressing various ways our community is impacted by sexism and all intersecting forms of discrimination and marginalization, including BIPOC, class, disability, immigration, LGBTQ+, religion/spirituality, veteran, and other dimensions of identity
- Work/Life Balance: strengthening our campus community for working women
Along with Sapkota and Ibrahimi, the commission also recognized Erin Green, Gloria Aparicio Blackwell, Tammatha O'Brien (Women of Influence Awards) and Rodrigo Trevino and Bill Mallari (Champions of Women Awards).
- Department of Family Science
- Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health
- School of Public Health